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Behind the Scenes: My Experience at the IDEA 2020 Conference

Amanda Wang, MSIM '19, sheds light on her personal perspective & learnings gained through the preparation & presentation process.
Amanda Wang and Jun Hyung Yoon, both MSIM '19, during their presentation.

On February 15th, 2020, my teammate Jun Hyung Yoon and I gave a five-minute speech about our journey of entrepreneurship during Boston University’s IDEA 2020 conference. It has been over a week since the event, but I am still processing the experience of being an IGNITE speaker, as I have learned so much throughout the two months of preparation.

How We Were Selected

My team was nominated for consideration by Tufts Gordon Institute, where our idea of creating Potencia was originally born. After being nominated, we were chosen to interview with the conference organizer. I was very excited when I knew we could be one of the six teams presenting during the event, as we had been thinking about bringing our idea outside of Tufts University’s campus and inviting more community members to join us in the Potencia mission. I had no idea whether we were a good fit for the conference, but we simply shared our passion during the interview. The first thing I learned during this process was that you should at least be confident in your passion for what you are doing, even if you are not sure about everything else. Passion is one of the prerequisites of an exciting story.

The Topic & Our Preparation

The topic of this year’s IDEA conference was ‘Embrace Your Impact’. The day kicked off with six IGNITE presentations where each speaker would talk about our experience starting our ventures and share our inspiration.

This event was the first time that I’ve spoken in front of more than two hundred people. Although we had done inspirational speeches and pitch training designed by the M.S. in Innovation and Management (MSIM) program, I was still not sure what stories I could share that would inspire my peers and also bring some fun.

Thanks to our amazing speech coach, Wendy Grossman, we gradually framed our story arc, starting from scratch. At the first meeting, we were so lost about how we could deliver the message with both of the co-founders talking about their own stories. Over the next several meetings, Wendy drew countless graphics to figure out how we can knead those small chunks of experience flakes into a nice, combined dough of Potencia’s story. She urged us to reflect back on our childhood, college life, struggles, and fun facts, to pick things that led us to where we are today.

Therefore, the second thing I learned here is that you OWN your story. Whatever you are thinking about now is based on what you once experienced, so be proud and ready to share that with people. It does not matter if you didn’t start as a teenager entrepreneur or a coding genius, what really counts is the authenticity. Be vulnerable, be humble, but also be confident all the time!

The Big Day

I have to admit that it was really challenging for me, like perhaps most of the speakers and event organizers, to arrive at Questrom Business School before 7:45 am on a winter morning. However, we all showed up on time, and it turned out to be just the best warm-up you can ever have for a cold winter morning.

Luckily, we were not nervous on the stage, and we gave a smooth talk as we had imagined hundreds of times. It was great to see all the people enjoy our speech with big smiles on their faces. In addition to that, I could see my supporters from Tufts Gordon Institute – our Executive Director, Kevin Oye, together with my friends from MSIM – smiling as we presented. This again affirmed my belief that MSIM is a great family where people have a real heart to care about each other, and you can build connections that go beyond just the classroom.

What I Learned from the Experience

The best thing about being a speaker at BU’s IDEA conference was actually the opportunity to get to know the other brilliant speakers and innovators in attendance. As a speaker, I learned way more than what I shared. Everyone has a unique story, but in the end, it all got connected by sharing our passions and belief in making a better world. I was, and will always be, grateful for all the people who made this experience possible.

To sum up, my learning at IDEA 2020 can be concluded as:

Start now to get your hands dirty and to tell your story loud, and let your passion do the magic!

Amanda and Jun surrounded by fellow MSIM students & alumni who attended the conference to show their support. Pictured with them are Ted Yuan (MSIM '19), Lulu Li (MSIM '19), Laura Taraboanta (MSIM '19), and Lee Ann Song (MSIM '20).